Danielle Linehan

Danielle Linehan

Health Enhancement, Department of Health and Human Development, Bozeman


Danielle “Dani” Linehan is a Health Enhancement major at MSU. Dani goes above and beyond when it comes to bettering herself for her future profession. Dani has attended two SHAPE Montana PE conferences, presenting at one of them. She taught rhythms and movement to a session of more than 50 Health Enhancement teachers like a pro. She is also the Future Professionals representative for SHAPE Montana. Dani has also attended and presented at the SHAPE America National Convention in New Orleans, LA. She has been a leader in the Health Enhancement program leading activities such as Little Bobcat Track.

Her great people skills and passion for doing her best, and her ability to relate to peers are a few of her many strengths. Dani’s dedication, leadership, personality and determined attitude spread to everyone she is involved with- whether it is a group project in class or assisting with organizing trips to conventions.

I found that Dani’s consistent temperament, open mindedness, and willingness to help others will serve to continue making her very successful as she pursues a job in the field of teaching.

Award received November 30, 2022. Nominated by Karie Orendorff.

Sheryl Shockley

Sheryl Shockley

Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages, Billings


Sheryl Shockley is an outstanding program coordinator who selflessly helps anyone who asks. This summer, the Department of Communication and the Department of Psychology were in the process of hiring a program coordinator. Without complaint or delay, and always with good humor and kindness, Sheryl diligently pitched in to assist both departments, while still serving in her existing roles as program coordinator for English, Philosophy and Modern Languages, and administrative associate for the Office of Graduate Studies and for the University Honors Program.


Sheryl's assistance with helping students file plans of study and in helping them register for classes in a timely fashion ensured that no student would be negatively impacted by the temporary absence of a program coordinator in the Departments of Communication and Psychology. Multiple faculty members commented that they simply did not know how they could have made it through this summer without her.


Sheryl inspires everyone she encounters with her tireless spirit, infectious smile, and positive outlook. Sheryl's hard work, collaborative spirit, and commitment to her colleagues and the students at Montana State University Billings are positively inspiring. She is True Gold!

Award received November 23, 2022. Nominated by Sam Boerboom.


Heather Hanna

Heather Hanna

Financial Services & Payroll Department, Billings


Heather continually goes above and beyond for everyone in our department and across campus. Heather will host many different pieces of training for individuals on campus to ensure they have all the resources they need. Her commitment and dedication to MSUB are outstanding. Each and every day, I learn something new from her.

She is the best leader I have ever had. Heather is not only involved in MSUB and dedicated to her work but is also an outstanding mother and wife. Heather has inspired me to be a better person, co-worker, mother, and wife. Her commitment to family and work is something I continue to strive for. Her dedication and willingness to help others are supreme.

Award received November 16, 2022. Nominated by Malia Dahl.

Kristy Merdinger

Kristy Merdinger

Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Bozeman


Kristy is an academic advisor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. She began her position here in early summer and, with brief training (due to unforeseen circumstances), she jumped right into the fire, so to speak, tackling Freshman Orientation and all its duties. Kristy was, at this time, the only advisor for our department. She took on all the advising duties including new freshmen and continuing students, prepared presentations, coordinated with Advising Commons and departmental staff and faculty, and did all the planning and preparing for Orientation and its associated events and activities. In addition, when I came onboard in early August, Kristy managed to add all my department-specific training to her tasks, and there was much for me to learn.

Mechanical & Industrial Engineering is one of the largest departments on campus in terms of student numbers. We have a great deal to do to serve our students effectively, as do all advisors, and Kristy manages this feat with kindness, compassion, and a huge smile, all to make sure that our students can be successful. I am constantly awed by her capabilities and truly inspired by her boundless energy.

Kristy, you are PURE GOLD!

Award received November 9, 2022. Nominated by Eliese Besemer.

Katie Burke

Katie Burke

Montana 10 Scholars Office, Billings


When Katie Burke arrived at MSUB, she had only a few weeks to assimilate into her role as the advisor to the newly launched Montana 10 Scholars program. She has carried these large responsibilities with grace and has supported student success with innovation, adaptability, tenacity, and dedication.

Katie is PURE GOLD for her ability to collaborate with campus partners and other MT10 advisors across the state. She goes above and beyond to motivate her peers and students towards the same goal: to help new first-time freshman matriculate and stay connected with campus resources!

Katie is a student success champion and has been an incredible ally to MSUB students, encouraging them to not only persist, but to thrive, despite their obstacles. I am humbled and proud to work alongside an employee of this caliber!

Award received November 2, 2022. Nominated by Julie Pettitt.

Jeanne Conner

Jeanne Conner

Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing, Billings


Jeanne has exemplified the Bobcat spirit over the past few months! Her steady encouragement (sprinkled with good humor) to fellow faculty members as we transition to a new curriculum is refreshing!! She continues to engage students with her creative teaching styles, helping them synthesize and connect ideas using her vast experience in the real world as a nurse. Sometimes we tell her "Jeanne, you are a Genie (and a genius)!" She can problem-solve most any situation diplomatically and creatively.

She is a great example of a Bobcat nurse: critically thinking, flexible problem solving, strong leader, and great advocate for change.

Award received October, 26, 2022. Nominated by Jordan Teller.

Kris Fedro

Kris Fedro

Montana PBS, Bozeman


Kris Fedro joined the Development team at Montana PBS one month before a global pandemic hit in February 2020. As our Office and Customer Service Coordinator, Kris adapted to this new world with grace under pressure and learned our database remotely, answered viewers questions with incredible care and compassion. As one of our frontline faces and voices of the organization, Kris has affectionately been called as "having the patience of Job." She can magically turn a worried or irritable viewer into a joyful believer of our programs. She full heartedly believes in the mission of Montana PBS, to share diverse stories, connect our citizens, discover common ground and celebrate the independent spirit and beauty of Montana.

Kris has helped us retain and grow our base of loyal donors across the state, by welcoming new members to our station via her friendly emails and personal phone calls to help members navigate ever changing technology. Kris has gone above and beyond her daily duties by also helping fill in during our live pledge nights to help operate a camera or record team competition, during an MSU athletics game, when our station has been short-staffed with student employees.

Award received October 19, 2022. Nominated by Erika Matsuda.

Joe Hicks

Joe Hicks

College of Education, Health and Human Development, Bozeman 


Joe Hicks is the epitome of Pure Gold. At the heart of Joe's role as Assistant Dean in the College of Education, Health & Human Development lies a work ethic that is care-driven, authentic, and student-focused. In fact, Joe has been dubbed "student support central" due to his tremendous commitment to student wellbeing and success. This is evident through Joe's collaboration with first-time suspended students through MSU's Second Wind program, mentorship of EHHD student leaders and ASMSU liaisons, and involvement in a myriad of student welcome back events this fall.  

In addition to the enthusiasm that punctuates Joe's work with students, we appreciate the energy he brings to EHHD outreach and engagement. Joe recently launched the "Bobcat Pounce 5K Run, Walk, Stroll," a successful inaugural event that raised enough funds to create an endowed memorial scholarship. Joe has also supported the Department of Education's rural practicum, a weeklong program that provides undergraduate students with hands-on field experience in rural schools and works to address teacher shortages in rural communities.

Joe is a positive force of upbeat energy to everyone he meets. Even with 70 million things on his plate, he is always prepared and smiling. Joe embodies the VIM of MSU and inspires us all every day!

Award received October 12, 2022. Nominated by the College of Education, Health and Human Development Dean's Office.

Jennifer Luebeck

Jennifer Luebeck

Department of Mathematical Sciences, Bozeman


Dr. Jennie Luebeck is a gem in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. I have been a graduate student at MSU since 2013 (Master's and PhD) and Dr. Luebeck is by far the best professor and advisor I have met. She has been supporting me since day one in the Master of Science in Mathematics - Mathematics Education Option (MSMME) program.  

There were numerous times these past years that I wanted to give up (it's really not easy to balance work, school, and family), but Dr. Luebeck was always there for me, supporting and encouraging me, and most importantly never let me give up. I am truly blessed to have such an incredible and inspiring mentor like Dr. Luebeck. She is the reason why I am still in the PhD program!

I have never seen such a dedicated and passionate educator like Dr. Luebeck. Her enthusiasm in education and sincere care for her students is very obvious and contagious. She would take her personal time to come down to Helena to help me figure out my program of study and she reached out to other professors to work out some plans so I could still continue the program virtually (because I live and work full-time outside Bozeman). Whenever I was stuck in my pathway of study, she would go explore and find a new pathway for me so I could stay in the program. Because of Dr. Luebeck, I told myself that I needed to hang in there and just go through all the hard work.

Award received October 5, 2022. Nominated by Amy Kong.

Great Falls team

Scott Thompson and Rion Sanders

Communications and Marketing Department, Great Falls 


Scott and Rion are a dynamic duo who encompass the entirety of the Communications and Marketing department at Great Falls College MSU. Great Falls College is a small campus and this team juggles a multitude of projects. This past year they took on a big project - The Lumina Foundation's Million Dollar Community College Challenge. From among hundreds of colleges across the country, Scott and Rion's submission for Great Falls College placed in the top ten for which the college received $100,000 and a mentorship program to improve the branding of the college. The application package they created highlighted the diverse learners and programs at the college.

Application submission video

This effort took countless hours and embodied the essence of the three pillars of the college's strategic plan: "Inclusivity" by removing barriers and providing support, "Opportunities" by increasing awareness and engaging communities, and "Excellence" through learning, assessing, and innovating. The content from Scott and Rion is always top quality, and both of them demonstrate stellar storytelling abilities through written stories, videos, and social media.

Great Falls College is lucky to have these two talented communicators sharing the success stories of our college and it's amazing students.

Award received September 28, 2022. Nominated by Stephanie Erdmann.

Kellie Anderson-Taves

Kellie Anderson-Taves

Department of Admissions and Record, Great Falls


Kellie Anderson-Taves is the current Records Manager in the Registrar's Office at Great Falls College MSU. In the last two years, she has been integral in keeping our campus commencement committee organized with detailed planning for its successful execution. 

Since 2019, Great Falls College MSU has honored our Native American graduates with a beaded eagle feather to honor their accomplishments at a special ceremony the morning of commencement. In preparation of the Eagle Feather Ceremony, Kellie beads many of the feathers with beautiful decorative patterns. Her dedication to this endeavor is unparalleled as each feather can take up to 5 hours of beading. Her attention to detail and her artistic skills are incredible. The significance of receiving an eagle feather is one of the most powerful honors that an indigenous person can receive. 

Kellie Anderson-Taves exemplifies what it means to be PURE GOLD! The lasting impact that Kellie has on the lives of our Native American students is admirable. The Great Falls College campus community is incredibly fortunate to benefit from Kellie's talents and continuous generosity of her time.

Jennifer Wells

Jennifer Wells

Office of Institutional Equity, Bozeman 


Jennifer Wells is a true expert at all things OIE. Jen is a lifelong learner and benefits the office by constantly striving to become a better investigator. Jennifer thinks deeply about the issues impacting MSU and compassionately supports MSU community members through painful and difficult moments. 

Jennifer inspires me with how many hats she wears each day - investigator, compassionate listener, team player, moral support.

Award received September 14, 2022. Nominated by Kyleen Breslin.

Kathy Haggart

Kathy Haggart

Business and Finance Office, Great Falls


Kathy Haggart is an outstanding employee, a huge asset to our college, and is so deserving of this Pure Gold award and recognition. Her service skills and payroll knowledge are exemplary. She has an exceptional rapport with people, and she always has a smile on her face with a positive disposition.

Kathy is consistently willing to assist others and is committed to educating employees and students. She has excellent communication and teamwork skills which make the workplace a positive environment. Working with Kathy over the years has been a pleasure and she inspires me to have a positive attitude and outlook on life.

Award received September 7, 2022. Nominated by Marie Cherry.

Jeannie Gracey

Jeannie Gracey

Montana PBS, Bozeman


Jeannie Gracey is a model for what it means to be a truly outstanding fundraiser in the non-profit world. A member of the Bozeman community for over 20 years, she makes lasting and sincere human connection her top priority. 

Her talents as a listener with an open heart and a go-getter attitude make her a wonderful person and a valued member of our team. She does more than just fundraising; Jeannie connects people to a cause they care about. She facilitates people being able to give back to their community and make the world a better place by matching ideals to needs. Her efforts as a member of the Montana PBS team ensure that public media and educational resources are available to all Montanans. Jeannie inspires myself and others to be invested in the people around us. 

It is an honor to work with her, learn from her, and call her my friend. Her outstanding professional and personal skills bring immense value to Montana PBS, Montana State University, and Montana as a whole. She is without a doubt Pure Gold.

Award received August 31, 2022. Nominated by Markie DeRudder.

Sophia Thompson

Sophia Thompson

Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing, Bozeman 


Sophia is an MSU College of Nursing student who works with our team at Proyecto SALUD. I have been so impressed with the dedication, passion, and commitment with which Sophia approaches each and every day of work at MSU

Despite being a busy student and working a full-time job, Sophia still shows up each day to work with dynamic energy, a positive attitude, and a desire to give her all. Sophia is dedicated to improving the health outcomes of immigrant and minority populations using community-based research and implementation methods. It is clear that Sophia cares about this work and is dedicated to decreasing health inequities and disparities in Gallatin County and beyond. As an active community member and a bilanguage liaison, Sophia is committed to making Gallatin County a more inclusive and welcoming community for all, including those whose primary language is not English.

Sophia inspires me every day. With her positive attitude and creative problem-solving skills, Sophia reminds me why this work is important. She motivates me to get more involved with our community and to come to work each day knowing how important it is to make a difference and improve health outcomes for all.

Award received August 24, 2022. Nominated by Danika Comey.